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Ἥφαιστος = πῦρ (n. on 120 ff.). It was a good sign if the fire at once seized on the offering, and blazed up in clear flames (Apoll. Rhod. 1. 436 “σέλας... πάντοσε λαμπόμενον θυέων ἄπο”). It was

a bad sign, if the fire was smothered in smoke, or played feebly around the flesh without consuming it. See Eur. Phoen. 1255μάντεις δὲ μῆλ᾽ ἔσφαζον, ἐμπύρους τ᾽ ἀκμὰς ῥήξεις τ᾽ ἐνώμων, ὑγρότητ᾽ ἐναντίαν, ἄκραν τε λαμπάδ᾽, δυοῖν ὅρους ἔχει, ϝίκης τε σῆμα καὶ τὸ τῶν ἡσσωμένων”: the seers ‘were watching for points of flame, or for breaks in it,—such flickering as portends evil’; i.e., they were watching to see whether it would blaze up or die down. The “ἄκρα λαμπάς” is prob. the highest point of the fire, which, if towards the right side, meant victory; if towards the left, defeat. So Statius, Theb. 10. 599, where Teiresias offers “ἔμπυρα”, and his daughter reports the signs to him (as the “παῖς” does here): “Sanguineos flammarum apices” (=“ἐμπύρους ἀκμάς”) “geminumque per aras | Ignem, et clara tamen mediae fastigia lucis” (=“ἄκραν λαμπάδα”) | “Orta docet: tunc in speciem serpentis inanem | Ancipiti gyro volvi” (‘as if creeping on its way without an aim, the fire played timidly around the offering’). In Seneca Oed. 307 Teiresias asks, “Quid flamma? Larga iamne comprendit dapes? | Utrumne clarus ignis et nitidus stetit, | Rectusque purum verticem caelo tulit, | An latera circum serpit incertus viae, | Et fluctuante turbidus fumo labat?

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 1255
    • Seneca, Oedipus, 307
    • Statius, Thebias, 10
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